In the novel Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Huck decides to reject civilization.
At the end of the story Aunt Sally wants to civilize him, but he refuses. He says 'I
reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally,
she's going to adopt me civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.'
Huck decides to choose against society because of all the harsh realities that he has
seen first hand.
Huck's early doubts of the civilized world all started with Pap. During most
of his childhood, Huck had been abused both physically and mentally by his
redneck guardian Pap. This man had walked into and out of Huck's life on
numerous occasions. He was the only father figure in Huck's life and failed
miserably at the job. Pap was the first representation of civilization to Huck and it
was a sour one.
It was also civilization that awarded custody of Huck to Pap. He
had been screwed over too many times by the civilized world, and that was the
main reason he decided to leave home.
Huck ran from his troubles at home down the Mississippi River. The river
is where he found his sanctuary. Jim and Huck were always safe, independent,
and free out on the raft. It seemed that every time they would go to shore,
something negative involving civilization would arise. The dark side of human
nature and suffering would meet up with the two of them. They always stumbled
upon the under-belly of society.
The symbol of human suffering was the Grangerfords family. When Huck
found himself in front of their farm after the ship wreck, his first impression was a
positive one. He thought that the Grangerfords were a pleasant, normal family.
However the dark secrets that existed within the family could make skin crawl.
The paintings and writings made by Emmeline Grangerford, who died when she
was fourteen, are of rather morbid subjects. She was a messed up child that came
from a bizarre, disturbed family. They had a feudal war going with another
family where constant deaths and suffering took place. Just before Huck leaves,
his age equivalent and friend Buck, gets shot in cold blood. Just another
exemplary performance of this so-called civilization that Huck is supposed to
The king and duke however were the icing on the cake. They represented
the greed and fraud that Huck especially hates about society. From the moment
that Huck and Jim met up with the king and duke, the voyage took a turn for the
worse. These two con-men were not only thieves and murderers, but they also
ended up selling Jim as a runaway slave. After that, the two tried to swindle a
couple of innocent girls out of their family fortune. This hanase act is what made
Huck feel the worst about people in general. The quote 'It was enough to make a
body ashamed of the human race,' (162) showed that Huck was embarrassed to be
a human. He could never go back to a civilization which he had no respect for.
According to Huck, the morals of society were up the creek.
Huckleberry Finn was dealt a raw deal in life. It started with his abusive
father Pap. Stability is the most important aspect of childhood and Huck didn't
have that. Pap kept leaving and coming back into his life and even went as low as
to attempt to take Huck's money. He decides to run away and make his voyage
down the river. Every time that they go to shore, some reject of civilization is who
they would run into. Aunt Sally wants him to come back with her and civilize
him, but based on his experiences, Huck just can't let that happen. He needs to
roam free. The only thing that Pap was never able to steal from his son was his
imagination. He needs to be able to think freely and to explore. Huck wants his
youth and innocence and he feels that civilization would take that away from him.